Gorge Blowout a race of cat and mouse

By ADAM LAPIERRE

News staff writer

July 12, 2006

The Gorge Blowout started in the early 1980s with a small fleet of catamaran sailboats. The goal, and essentially the only rule of the event at the time, was to finish the 17-mile downwind run from Stevenson to Hood River in the same boat racers started with.

Many crafts did not complete the journey through gusty winds, chop and swell typical to the Gorge.

History was made in the late eighties, when a then awkward-looking stack of ram-air kites and a guy on a pair of water-skis blew away the competition. Cory Roeseler started the blowout late that year, cruised past the competition, and landed at the Hood River Event Site ahead of everyone else.

At the time, rules of the event labeled Roeseler, with his kite, an “unofficial” entrant in the blowout. The first windsurfer to cross the line won the $4,500 and the Yamaha Waver Runner.

In the years that followed, kite-riders made their way into the event as official entrants alongside windsurfers.

Catamarans faded from the Blowout, windsurfers thrived, and kiteboarding made its mark as a viable means of shredding the waters of the Gorge, competitively and otherwise.

Dale Cook and Bruce Peterson have been chasing each other on the water for years.

Whether it’s the annual Gorge Cup, the now-extinct Gorge Games, or the Blowout, the two have been at each other’s heels in nearly every event they’ve entered over the years. And the tradition continued Sunday during this year’s Blowout.

What was missing, however, was Roeseler, whom Cook and Peterson have been chasing from time to time since kiteboarding in the Gorge came into existence. Due to insurance issues, this year’s Gorge Blowout was a windsurfing-only event.

And the event, which included the first-ever Junior Blowout from Viento to Hood River, went very well. It went especially well for Cook, who edged Peterson this time around by just over seven minutes for the overall win. Cook’s time was 1:07:22, Peterson’s was 1:14:46 and third-place finsher Andreas Macke’s time was 1:16:45.

In all, 54 windsurfers turned out and only seven did not finish the run, which is a higher percentage of finishers than in many previous Blowouts.

The first-ever Junior Blowout brought seven youngsters to Viento State Park for a seven-mile run to the Event Site. In that field, Todd Selby finished first with a time of 42:25. Andy Crafts finished second, in 47:25.

Visiting the Gorge from Canada was Vincent Tremblay, who was the only Junior to complete the actual Blowout. He finished 12th overall in 1:37:37. The first female to cross the line was Shelley Gimbal, who finished 13th overall in 1:38:10.

Winds Sunday were good and consistent through most of the course. But they were not strong enough for record-breaking times. To date, Roeseler holds the course record of just over 47 minutes, while Cook holds the windsurfing record of just under an hour.

Top finishers:

1st Dale Cook

2nd Bruce Peterson

3rd Andreas Macke

4th Jac LeRoux

5th MacRae Wylde

6th Anil Rajani

7th Stefan Lidington

8th Jan Hoogland

9th Carey Caronni

10th Alex Ionide

Junior Blowout:

1st Todd Selby

2nd Andy Crafts

3rd Jonathan Poore

4th Jay Watermeyer

5th Alex Nielsen

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